Trump's impeachment lesson: Democrats are 'crooked'

President Donald Trump said the lesson he learned from his impeachment trial is that "Democrats are crooked" and "vicious."

Posted: Feb 13, 2020 3:30 AM
Updated: Feb 13, 2020 3:30 AM

If some Republican senators emerged from President Donald Trump's impeachment acquittal optimistic he'd learned important lessons of presidential behavior, he was happy on Wednesday to offer a different takeaway.

"The Democrats are crooked," he said when questioned in the Oval Office about what he learned from the impeachment ordeal, which concluded one week ago. "They got a lot of crooked things going. That they're vicious. That they shouldn't have brought impeachment."

It was a conclusive answer to a question that seemed less and less of a question in the days since Trump's impeachment trial gaveled out with a "not guilty" verdict.

Since then, the President has waged a brazen tour of retribution toward officials he sees as enemies. He's cast aside conventions separating politics from the rule of law. And he's basking in the uncertainty of the Democratic race to replace him.

Even as some of his aides scramble to explain away his behavior as routine, Trump himself is taking no pains to disguise his intentions. After administration officials downplayed the decision to ease sentencing recommendations for onetime campaign associate Roger Stone as standard procedure, Trump made clear the intervention was more narrow.

"I want to thank the Justice Department for seeing this horrible thing," he said in the Oval Office as his Ecuadorian counterpart looked on. "They saw the horribleness of a nine year sentence for doing nothing."

Stone's crimes, in the eyes of the federal jury who convicted him of tampering with a witness and lying to Congress, were not nothing. But for Trump, the facts of the case seemed ancillary to the effect the episode had on Stone and his family.

"We have killers, we have murderers all over the place, nothing happens," he said. "And then they put a man in jail and destroy his life, his family, his wife, his children. Nine years in jail -- it's a disgrace."

Trump declined to say whether he was considering a pardon for Stone -- "I don't want to say that yet"-- but the message was clear: the once-typical wall between White House political motives and Justice Department decision-making has fallen.

Trump himself has long erased the traditional line that's existed between a president's official duties and his political ones. Events billed as "official" engagements often turn to attacks of Democratic rivals. On Wednesday, a stack of red "Keep America Great" hats produced by Trump's campaign sat within arm's reach on a side table in the Oval Office.

But the longstanding practice of avoiding interference in politically charged Justice Department investigations had at least been applied in theory -- if not practice. Now, Trump is openly flaunting his willingness to intervene.

Earlier in the day, Trump congratulated Attorney General Bill Barr in a tweet for "taking charge" of the Stone case and railed against what he described as the "Mueller Scam."

And while Trump continued to insist on Wednesday that he hadn't spoken directly to Barr or other Justice Department officials about the situation, he has said he would have the "absolute right" to do it if he wanted.

It's not exactly what moderate Republican senators such as Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins pictured when they voted against convicting Trump on impeachment charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Their hope then was that Trump, stained by impeachment and chastened by accusations he misused his presidential authority, would operate in more traditional fashion going forward.

Instead, the opposite has seemed to occur. Trump has overseen the dismissal of two key witnesses from the impeachment trial, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, and Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the EU. He's itching to fire other officials he deems disloyal, and abruptly withdrew a Treasury Department nomination for Jessie Liu, the former US attorney who headed the office that oversaw Stone's prosecution.

And after the Justice Department disavowed the government's sentencing recommendations for Stone, all four federal prosecutors working on the case resigned.

"I don't like this chain of events," Collins said on Wednesday. "The President weighs in, all of a sudden, Justice comes back and says, 'Change the deal.' I think most people in America would look at that and say, 'Hmm, that just doesn't look right.' And I think they're right."

Murkowski, asked whether Trump had taken any lessons from the impeachment saga, said that "there haven't been any strong indicators this week that he has."

Trump paid little mind to those sentiments as he took questions, sometimes angrily, in the Oval Office on Wednesday, where he was ostensibly meeting with President Lenín Moreno of Ecuador. It's the first time in nearly 20 years a president of Ecuador has visited the White House.

As Moreno looked on from his wheelchair (he was wounded during a 1998 robbery attempt and has used a wheelchair since), Trump cast himself as the victim of politically motivated takedown attempts and seemed intent on finding retribution.

"Where is (James) Comey? What's happening to (Andrew) McCabe? What's happening to Lisa and Peter Strzok, what's happening with them? It was a whole setup," Trump said, listing off the now-familiar names he blames for the investigations that have plagued his presidency.

Asked if he was concerned that federal prosecutors were resigning or withdrawing from cases on his watch, Trump said: "I'm not concerned about anything. They ought to go back to school and learn."

He seemed more pleased with a question from an Ecuadorean reporter, who praised US economic growth before asking about signs of weakness in Latin American economies.

"I love that question," Trump said, "I wish we had people like that here."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 549830

Reported Deaths: 7067
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1145171675
Ramsey47380851
Dakota42007420
Anoka38065415
Washington24723273
Stearns20819218
St. Louis16620297
Scott15798117
Wright14643125
Olmsted1268297
Sherburne1046080
Carver970145
Clay777389
Rice7554101
Blue Earth690640
Kandiyohi623979
Crow Wing607986
Chisago543749
Otter Tail539373
Benton526097
Mower449532
Douglas438970
Goodhue438271
Winona437249
Nobles398748
Morrison391159
McLeod387854
Beltrami370557
Isanti370359
Itasca366052
Polk362467
Steele357714
Becker350248
Lyon346748
Carlton327052
Freeborn325029
Pine309221
Nicollet304142
Brown293139
Mille Lacs277350
Le Sueur268022
Todd267230
Cass247426
Meeker232737
Waseca229520
Martin211529
Wabasha19913
Roseau195518
Hubbard170541
Dodge17033
Renville169743
Redwood165435
Houston162114
Cottonwood155320
Fillmore15149
Pennington149519
Chippewa144636
Faribault142919
Wadena142721
Sibley134910
Aitkin127836
Kanabec127621
Watonwan12529
Rock121719
Jackson115910
Yellow Medicine110119
Pipestone109125
Murray10209
Pope10146
Swift98618
Marshall85317
Stevens80510
Lake78019
Clearwater76614
Wilkin76512
Koochiching76212
Lac qui Parle73422
Big Stone5594
Lincoln5572
Grant5438
Norman5209
Mahnomen4948
Unassigned48278
Kittson46222
Red Lake3857
Traverse3595
Lake of the Woods2993
Cook1440

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 356912

Reported Deaths: 5810
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk55819602
Linn20248329
Scott18949234
Black Hawk15517306
Woodbury14872220
Johnson1397781
Dubuque13115202
Dallas1087696
Pottawattamie10703162
Story1028547
Warren553586
Clinton536490
Cerro Gordo521186
Webster507991
Sioux505073
Marshall476874
Muscatine457896
Des Moines440665
Wapello4250120
Buena Vista421440
Jasper407670
Plymouth396779
Lee367755
Marion354375
Jones292955
Henry285937
Carroll279050
Bremer278960
Crawford262039
Boone257833
Benton249655
Washington249249
Dickinson240643
Mahaska224049
Jackson217842
Kossuth212362
Clay209825
Tama206571
Delaware202539
Winneshiek193933
Page190320
Buchanan188231
Cedar183423
Fayette182841
Wright180135
Hardin179242
Hamilton177949
Harrison175373
Clayton166655
Butler162434
Mills158020
Cherokee156738
Floyd155242
Lyon154341
Madison153519
Poweshiek152433
Allamakee149051
Iowa145324
Hancock143334
Winnebago135831
Grundy135032
Cass134354
Calhoun133111
Jefferson130535
Emmet128340
Shelby127337
Sac126819
Appanoose126647
Louisa126549
Mitchell125241
Union124032
Chickasaw122515
Humboldt118126
Guthrie117729
Franklin112521
Palo Alto110421
Howard102822
Montgomery100237
Unassigned10020
Clarke98023
Keokuk94430
Monroe93528
Ida89433
Adair84332
Pocahontas83321
Monona80930
Davis79924
Greene76410
Osceola75016
Lucas74922
Worth7078
Taylor65112
Fremont61210
Decatur5899
Van Buren55518
Ringgold53423
Wayne51923
Audubon4949
Adams3284
Rochester/St. Mary'S
Partly Cloudy
53° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 53°
Mason City
Cloudy
53° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 53°
Albert Lea
Partly Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 54°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
57° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 57°
Charles City
Cloudy
55° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 55°
Slight warm up into the weekend
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events